Five Poems

translated by Shook
Archipelago. Photo: Kris Williams
Photo: Kris Williams/Flickr


The enigma is some other thing – no gods live here
Just men and the sea, immovable inheritance.



By dowry I received you at birth
and I recognize your speech in my voice.
At your core, like the seed in the fruit
the verse in the poem, I exist.

Seaside house, unchosen source!
I belong to you and call you mine
like my mother whom I did not choose
but nonetheless love.



They brought sunsets and roads
Their thirst for the horizon called them.

– To whom do you belong?
Who are your people?

That’s how our grandmother extended
The cup of water to the traveler. 



In this country the statues disdain heights
They trade in the plaza, ravage roads
They have pensive hands and clay on the soles of their feet.



For Francisco da Silva, Gito
In memoriam

Today the words say nothing of shipwrecks.
Just petals
Invisible petals
Infinite petals
And at the tip of our fingers
The phantom of a sweet, livable City.
Its garments of purple and legend
Its body, stubborn fruit and just distribution.
We are witnesses to a precise metamorphosis.

Translations from the Portuguese
By David Shook

Conceição Lima is a Santomean poet from the town of Santana in São Tomé. She studied journalism in Portugal and has worked in radio, television, and in the print press in her native country. She has published three books of poetry: O Útero da Casa, A Dolorosa Raiz do Micondó, and O País de Akendenguê.

Shook’s most recent book-length translations include Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome, a finalist for the PEN Award. Their forthcoming books include a new translation of Mario Bellatin’s Beauty Salon and a collection of Spanish-language poetry, Atlas estelar.